LGBTQ Victory Fund
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|Annise Parker (President and CEO)|
Richard Holt (Chair)
Chris Abele (Chair)
Campbell Spencer (Vice-Chair)
Mattheus Stephens (Secretary)
Chrys Lemon (Treasurer)
|Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund|
The LGBTQ Victory Fund (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund), commonly shortened to Victory Fund, is an American political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT public officials in the United States. Victory Fund is the largest LGBT political action committee in the United States and one of the nation’s largest non-connected PACs.
The Victory Fund was founded in 1991 as a non-partisan political action committee. It provides strategic, technical and financial support to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer candidates and officials across the United States running for all levels of government. Its partner organization, Victory Institute, offers programs and training to elected officials.
To be considered for endorsement, candidates must identify as LGBTQ, demonstrate community support and a realistic plan to win, demonstrate support of federal, state or local efforts to advance LGBTQ civil rights via the legislative or regulatory process, and demonstrate support of federal, state or local efforts to safeguard privacy and reproductive freedom. These requirements are less stringent for judicial endorsements.
Victory Fund employs a tiered system of endorsements. The categories are: “Game Changer,” designating candidates who can become historic firsts and directly impact LGBTQ representation in the highest levels of government. “Spotlight,” designating candidates who can make history or increase LGBTQ representation in low-equality states or in states with few or no LGBTQ lawmakers. Non-designated candidates are candidates who will increase the number of LGBTQ voices in government.
Victory Fund and Victory Institute are led by a president-CEO and a team of staff based in Washington, D.C. The fund also has a board of directors, composed of top leaders of government, politics, and business. Additionally, the Victory Campaign Board is elected to recruit and endorse candidates, as well as provide financial resources.
Victory Fund was founded in 1991 by Vic Basile and William Waybourn, with Waybourn becoming its first executive director. It provides strategic, technical and financial support to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates and officials across the United States, helping them win elections at local, state and federal levels. Victory has helped elect several hundred openly LGBT candidates to Congress, state legislatures, school boards and city councils. In addition, it works to help openly gay and lesbian officeholders develop professionally through its collaboration with the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials and co-sponsorship of the annual Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference.
The group's founders, Dallas gay-rights activist William Waybourn and Human Rights Campaign Fund Executive Director Vic Basile, were inspired by the use of EMILY's List funds to power the 1990 election of former Governor of Texas Ann Richards. Waybourn and Basile planned an organization that would employ EMILY's List methodology—early money given sufficiently transforms "qualified candidates from 'fringe' status to 'front-runners'"—to propel gay and lesbian candidates to elected office.
Victory Fund endorses dozens of openly LGBT candidates each year, increasing exposure to potential donors and providing both strategic and material support. Past endorsees include Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank, Sean Patrick Maloney, David Cicilline, Lupe Valdez, Victoria Kolakowski, Patricia Todd and Virginia Linder. The first candidate the Victory Fund endorsed was Sherry Harris, who was elected to the City Council in Seattle, Washington, in 1991, making her the first openly lesbian African-American elected official.
In 1995, Victory Fund was a principal organizer of a meeting between representatives of the Clinton administration and several dozen leaders of gay and lesbian organizations. This meeting followed on the heels of the Presidential Appointments Project, whose goal was getting openly gay people appointed to all levels of the Clinton administration (and subsequently, the Bush and Obama administrations).
In 1997, activist Brian Bond was hired as executive director of the Victory Fund from his position as the director of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council at the Democratic National Committee from to rebuild the nearly-bankrupt organization. He is credited by Tammy Baldwin with helping grow the visibility and size of the organization.[circular reference] He stepped down in 2003.
In 2008, 80 of the group's 111 endorsed candidates won their elections.
In 2009, Victory Fund played an important role[clarification needed] in the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston. In electing an out lesbian as its chief executive, Houston became the largest city in the country to have elected an openly gay person as mayor. Local gay groups, particularly the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, had nurtured Parker's political career and were openly supporting her race. The Victory Fund became a huge player in the race by providing a much-needed source of cash for Parker's grassroots efforts and helping her stay financially competitive with her two chief rivals, both of whose campaigns were lavishly funded. After the campaign, Parker referred to the Victory Fund as her "secret weapon" and thanked the organization for its help.
Chuck Wolfe stepped down as president of the organization at the end of 2014. In 2015, Aisha Moodie-Mills became the new president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which made her the first woman, first person of color and first lesbian to become the head of Victory Fund. In 2017, Moodie-Mills' departure was announced and the new president and CEO was named, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
In 2018, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute was renamed the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute to accurately reflect the environment in which it works.
Programs and events
Victory Fund hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Its most prominent is the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference hosted each December, bringing elected officials from around the United States and the world for a weekend of panels, speakers, and receptions. This conference grew out of a joint conference in 2004 with the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials (INLGO). Victory Institute and NLGO merged in 2005.
Victory Fund also hosts a number of champagne brunches and receptions around the United States, in cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, and San Diego. These bring together local officials and supporters and serve as fundraising for the organization.
Other events include various pride receptions, including in Washington D.C. in June and in San Diego during July.
Victory Institute hosts events of its own as well as stewards several fellowship and internship programs. Events include LGBTQ Leadership Summits, which are day-long intensive trainings for LGBTQ leaders, and Candidate and Campaign Trainings, which are weekend long crash courses on how to run for office. The Institute also hosts international trainings, and has received funding from USAID.
The Victory Congressional Internship program brings LGBTQ college students to Washington, D.C. for an intensive leadership program, and includes an eight-week summer internship with an LGBTQ-friendly member of Congress. Participants also attend the International LGBTQ Leadership Conference in December.
The David Bohnett Victory Congressional Fellowship brings an emerging LGBTQ leader to Washington, D.C. for a year-long intensive fellowship that supports the executive director of the LGBTQ Congressional Equality Caucus. It also includes a generous stipend and access to the International LGBTQ Leadership Conference.
The Victory Empowerment Fellowship was implemented by Aisha Moodie-Mills and helps emerging LGBTQ leaders of color and transgender leaders expand their campaign skills and policy-making power through a year-long membership and access to a Candidate Campaign Training and the International LGBTQ Leadership Conference.
The Bohnett Leaders Fellowship brings senior-level executives working with state and local governments, including government officials and elected officeholders, to a three-week intensive Executive Education program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Presidential Appointments Initiative works with LGBTQ leaders and pro-equality presidential administrations to ensure LGBTQ people are included in the government.
- ProudPolitics, a similar group in Canada
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Some 130 candidates nationwide requested financial help from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a political-action committee, said its executive director, William W. Waybourn. The fund has supported 27 candidates this year, he said, almost twice as many as in 1993.
- New York Times: Jeffrey Schmalz, "As Gay Marchers Gather, Mood Is Serious and Festive," April 25, 1993, accessed Dec. 9, 2009. "At a celebration lunch sponsored by the Victory Fund, half a dozen appointed and elected officials who had not previously been known to be gay made an appearance."
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